Can you make ads people will actually like?
Yes, it can be done.
The TL;DR: Provide useful information. Provide convenience. Build trust. Don’t chase people.
The story behind this, for those who prefer storytelling:
We’re turning over the model year in the US auto industry, and when that happens manufacturers and dealers will up their advertising spend. Traditionally, auto advertising has been brand advertising, and auto ads are part of the American popular culture. You’ve seen it, “the all new 2019 Toyota,” driving along a wooded road next to a cliff.
With the model year turnover will come the expiration of my own car lease, and as a result I’ve begun to start looking at ads, reading Edmunds, KBB, and Consumer Reports, and considering my options. I’ve been looking at brand ads all year without seeing them, and now that I actually SEE them, I am focusing on what I want to know about each brand.
With all the consumer research the auto industry does, I believe it still does not do a good enough job presenting information to people like me, the customer who is actually “in the market.” What do I want to see in the car ad?
1)What kind of visibility does this automobile offer? This could be presented in a video or a VR experience. And yet the only videos I’ve seen in auto ads are cars hugging curves, or golden retrievers driving Subarus.
2)Is the seating comfortable, and how much do I have to pay for lumbar support, adjustable seats, and other “creature comforts?”
3)What is the gas mileage?
4)How quickly does the car gain speed when entering a freeway?
5)What technology is in this car, both for driver assist and for handoff from my devices?
Instead of presenting this information to me online either a native ad on a car site or in an interactive format, the outmoded goal of a car ad is just to get me to the showroom, where history has already taught me I will have the experience I had a few days ago.
Customer: does this car have adjustable seats?
Sales associate: Not this model. It’s an upgrade
Customer: does this car have Apple Play?
Sales associate: not on this model
Customer: thank you (heads for the car)
Sales manager running after customer, sport coat flapping: Wait!
Sales manager: Aren’t you even willing to look at some numbers?
Customer: No. The car doesn’t have what I want.
Sales manager: Yeah, but Dave doesn’t get compensated by the hour. He only gets compensated by the sale. You just wasted his time!
Customer: Twitter will hear about this.Picks up cell phone to Tweet.
Lesson: Don’t use your ads to get people to the showroom. Instead, use them for information purposes. Real information will not be rejected by customers, and it will help you identify the RIGHT customers without stalking them through either data privacy infractions or following them out into traffic.